Antietam Fire Co. might move to North End

February 02, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • The exterior of the former Four Seasons RV Service and Sales property on Potomac Avenue is shown Wednesday. The Antietam Fire Co. has a tentative contract for the property.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

The Antietam Fire Co. is thinking about moving from downtown Hagerstown to the city's North End.

The fire company has a tentative contract for the former Four Seasons RV Service and Sales property on Potomac Avenue.

Robert Daveler, the fire company's treasurer, said there has been talk for many years about moving the company to the North End.

"I was on the relocation committee 25 years ago," he said.

The fire company wants to buy the vacant property through a financing agreement with the city, but there's no definite plan. For now, the fire company is only investigating the possibility, Daveler said.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the mayor and the Hagerstown City Council expect to hear more information from the fire company about the proposal and the estimated costs before taking any action.

The land and building were on the market for $800,000, but the fire company and the owner agreed on a contract with a price of $600,000, Daveler said.

He said the building also would need about $300,000 worth of work to turn it into a fire station. About a third of that is the cost of adding a sprinkler system to meet a federal requirement.

There would be space for living quarters and a kitchen. A drive-through maintenance shop would house the fire company's trucks.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, has submitted a bill seeking $200,000 from the state budget for renovations. The fire company would match that with $100,000 of its own.

Donoghue said he remembers the property as Middlekauff Motors while he was growing up.

With "phenomenal growth" in the North End — particularly along Eastern Boulevard and Leitersburg Pike — "it would be a quicker response time without going through the heart of downtown," Donoghue said.

Daveler said it would help to have a fire company north of the railroad tracks in the North End.

The Antietam Fire Co. is considered part of Hagerstown Fire Department, but is a separate nonprofit entity.

Daveler said its territory runs as far south as Wilson Boulevard and as far north as Northern Avenue.

The company, which turned 200 years old in 2008, has been in its Summit Avenue station for more than a century, he said.

The fire station is a tight fit for wide firetrucks, which have to be backed in.

"The building was built for horses," Daveler said.

The fire company would move its operations, but wouldn't give up its current building. The company hasn't decided how it might use the Summit Avenue station in the future.

"We love that old building," Daveler said.

Four Seasons RV Service and Sales moved to Potomac Avenue in 1996 after 12 years on Virginia Avenue, owner William Rupar said.

The business closed in June 2010. Rupar said he could no longer find a bank willing to finance an RV business.

Rupar, 79, said he was ready to retire anyway.

Eight months after the tentative contract was drawn up, he said he's eager to sell the property and stop paying taxes and insurance on it.

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